The Departure of St. Hedra, Bishop of Aswan
On this day also, the great father Abba Hedra, Bishop of Aswan, departed. His parents, who were Christians, raised him and taught him the fear of God since an early age. When he was 18 years old, his parents wanted him to marry one of his relatives, but he refused with the excuse that he was ill. That morning he went to church early, prayed with the congregation asking the Lord Christ to reveal to him, through the readings of the scriptures, what was His will for him. He heard what comforted him.
When he left the church, he saw a deceased person was carried and on his way to the cemetery. He walked among the mourners, talking to himself saying, "Listen Hedra, it is not this one that died but you yourself who died from this futile world." When they arrived at the cemetery and buried the deceased, he did not go back to his home but joined the monastery and lived among the monks.
When his family and friends heard what he did, they went and told him, "In so doing you have brought grief to us and have saddened your fiancee's heart." They added, "You can worship God in any place you desire." When they failed to change his mind, they went back with grief-filled hearts for his separation.
Henceforth St. Hedra went on in intense worship, asceticism, continuous fasting, uninterrupted prayers, and numerous metanias. He was a contemporary of St. Poemin and became his disciple. St. Hedra was guided by Anba Poemin's teachings and his good example.
Eight years later, he asked to live a solitary life in the desert. Anba Poemin asked him to read the biography of the great saint Anba Antonius (Antony) the father of all monks, in order to learn how to fight the evil enemy, Satan. When the elders allowed him, he went in the desert until he found a cave wherein he lived. He lived there for many years fighting the devil and his soldiers.
The devil tempted him frequently. One time the devil appeared with a sword in his hand and wanted to cut off Anba Hedra's hands. The saint cried to the Lord and the devil disappeared at once. One day he left his cave and when he came back, he found a huge dragon in the cave. He prayed to the Lord saying, "My Lord and Master, if it is Your will for me to live with this beast, so be it" He then looked at the dragon and found that it was cut into three pieces.
He was in a continuous war with the devils, awakened during the night and unsettled during the day, but the Lord saved him from them all. The defiled spirits cried saying, "Woe to you Hedra for your prayers burnt us and expelled us from the wilderness."
He shut himself up in his cell. Nevertheless, they brought the sick and those with evil spirits to him, he prayed over oil, anointed them with it, and they were healed immediately.
Syrian monks came to him, asking about unclear issues in the Scriptures (Holy Books). He explained all to them and they marvelled at his knowledge, saying, "We have been in many monasteries and mountains, visited teachers and philosophers, but we did not find anyone to explain these issues as St. Hedra did."
When the bishop of the city of Aswan departed, some of the people of the city went to the monastery. There they met the Syrian monks who praised St. Hedra highly. They went to St. Hedra and took him, against his will, and travelled to Alexandria. Anba Theophilus, Pope of Alexandria, ordained him bishop over them. When he sat on his chair, he went on preaching to his people and teaching them the way of life. He performed many miracles and lived the rest of his life in a good demeanor then departed in peace.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
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